Varieties Of Religious Experience

Written By: William James (American)

Vocation: Philosopher & Psychologist

In this book William James does an exquisite job of unveiling the deep psychological components of religious experience. I appreciate that he approached the subject matter without being afraid to delve into some the more mystical elements of these experiences while maintaining a critical yet fair perspective. Though it was written at the turn of the last century its analysis and subject matter seem so contemporary that the book could pass for having been written recently.

I enjoyed the detailed experiences among several people that he explored. Showing the similarities and differences of how spiritual experiences seem to emerge. This is a heavy subject in which he could have opted to be unduly “objective” and made this a dry read. Instead, he just presents the materials and shares some of his own thoughts about the process. I also found it refreshing that he was unafraid to say “I don’t know.” He did this without being condescending to people and their experiences. Also, he did not assume (as many western thinkers have in the past century or so) that because he did not know that there was no answer. In other words, he was true to both the psychologist and philosopher in this exploration. In my opinion that made for a balanced and interesting read.

It’s a thick book, but worth every effort to complete it. There are a few books that will always remain on my shelf for repeated reference. This book is absolutely one of them! Have some tea or coffee, find a quiet spot and read this book.

-Sensei Derek Fletcher


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